Perhaps giving Mariano Rivera a job to do before the game, other than greet fans and accept parting gifts from opposing team, is a bad idea. Today, following a nice ceremony in which Rivera was gifted with an FDNY call box and hose nozzle by the Mets and the FDNY fire commissioner, the Mets asked Rivera to throw out the ceremonial first pitch to former Mets closer and legend John Franco.
Or maybe it was the 1 hour and 31 minute rain delay that shook everything up. But either way, today’ s loss was really unexpected.
There has been a lot of talk recently about the Mets starting pitcher (Matt Harvey) because of his 5-0 record so far this year for them. He is quickly filling in a much-needed spot of consistency missing from the Mets rotation in recent years. He kept the Yankees offense on their toes, striking out 10 Yankee batters over 8 innings and allowing a single run — an RBI single by Lyle Overbay to hit Brett Gardner home. Short of that, Harvey showed why National League batters seem to fear his pitching. But it was his replacement that earned the win because of what the Mets middle of the lineup power hitters pulled out of their hat in the 9th inning.
Starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda went 7 innings, keeping the Mets scoreless, limiting them to 4 hits and earning 7 strikeouts. Robertson continued the streak in the 8th inning, keeping the Yankees on top 1-0. And Gardner for the 2nd time in the series makes a fun jumping catch at the wall in the 6th inning to spare a Mets batter from putting something on the board at that point. Also in the 6th, Kuroda also picked off a runner at 1st base for the final out of that inning, which earned the wrath of the Mets’ manager who was quickly tossed from the game.
So when Mariano Rivera stepped onto the mount to preserve the lead and earn his 19th save for the year, things suddenly didn’t work. With no outs in the 9th inning, he allowed a ground-rule double, followed by an RBI single to blow the save opportunity. A throwing error by Gardner at the plate allows the runner to score and the batter to reach 2nd base. Again with no outs, the next batter singles out to right field and the runner at 2nd base scores easily for a walk-off single for the Mets win tonight 2-1.
Rivera has been perfect all year, so this blown save is unexpected. And it’s a shame really for both Rivera and for Kuroda who really had an outstanding outing today in Queens. And yes, it’s a shame for the Yankees to lose again, which keeps our team a solid 1 game behind Boston in the AL East.
Also Joba Chamberlain has been activated following his stint on the DL, which was made possible by designating recent acquisition David Huff for assignment. And Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis are on their way to AA Trenton for their rehab assignments. This means the corner infielders are on their way back into the regular lineup, but this also means that someone will have to go home on a more permanent basis within a couple of weeks.
That is certainly not a job I envy having to dictate people’s careers at the shifting of another person’s careers. I think of that scene in Moneyball, where the assistant GM is having to tell some player that he’s been traded and it’s harder on the assistant than it is on the player. I suppose some players get used to being shifted around like chess pieces. I think it would be harder on the person who has to give the bad news than it is for the person who has to receive it. But then again, I’ve never been on either side of that conversation.
Something tells me that however the pieces land, the Yankees will still continue to reach potentials unexpected of them this year because they are, after all, a team first. It’s the team that ultimately either wins or loses. It’s the team that makes the playoffs and the individual that watches them from his home in October. It’s the individual that has to have their name, their face, their trick plays on display, in the papers, and on fans jerseys for every game, and the team that celebrates every good play, hit, and personal victory. And while names and individuals will continue to be shuffled around, it’s the team that continues on whether the “names” are suiting up to play or the “no-names” are. Either way, they’re all Yankees, and once a Yankee…